Bengie Howard brings extensive experience, training to the role
SOMERSET, KENTUCKY (March 28, 2022) — A lifelong Pulaski Countian and third-generation firefighter has been appointed chief of the Somerset Fire Department.
With a unanimous vote, Bengie Howard — who has served as the department’s captain and training director for the last nine years and as acting fire chief since September 2021 — was named the next chief by Somerset City Council at its regular meeting Monday.
“Chief Howard has a tremendous record of public service in our community and a passion for all emergency services, but specifically fire,” Mayor Alan Keck said. “His family has a rich history of service to fire protection in Somerset and Pulaski County and I am honored to have him lead our department in this capacity.”
Indeed, Howard and his family have dedicated much of their lives to public service. Howard started working as a firefighter at a young age, as a junior fighter for the Tateville Fire Department — a department founded by his grandfather, Sam Davis. Howard’s father serves as the Tateville chief and has been involved with the fire service for 61 years. Howard’s mother served as a nurse at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital for 36 years.
Howard is a graduate of Saline Christian Academy. He joined the United States Marine Corps and served four years before returning home to begin his career with the local fire service. He served 24 years as the assistant chief of Tateville Fire Department; 24 years with the Somerset-Pulaski County Rescue Squad; 23 years as a paramedic, captain and shift commander at Wayne County EMS; 23 years with the City of Somerset; eight years with the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS; and seven years as a fighter and officer on an engine company at Somerset Fire Department.
Howard is a national registered paramedic, a state fire instructor, is accredited with the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress, has earned more than 10,000 training hours with 5,000 hours as a firefighter instructor and holds technician-level certification in all rescue disciplines conducted by the fire department. He is a trained fire officer with the National Fire Academy in the areas of fire ground tactics and strategies; command, control and accountability; budget and financial strategy execution; fire safety; fire department and community risk assessments; ISO mitigation and community risk reduction.
His priorities as chief, Howard said, include working to improve and promote the image of the Somerset Fire Department within the community, “making Somerset Fire Department an example of professionalism and excellent customer service.”
“I would also like to work with all city entities to provide a better-coordinated response to various possible emergencies,” Howard said. Lowering the department’s ISO rating and creating an officer development program are also at the top of his list.
Howard said serving Somerset’s more than 12,000 residents is a huge responsibility, but he is up to the challenge.
“Most of those people we will never meet, but they are our fellow citizens and by virtue of that bond alone they are worthy of our sacrifice and commitment and even our supreme sacrifice,” Howard said. “The men and women of Somerset Fire Department are proud to serve this community. I’m saying this for the men and women I serve with every day. It’s a great honor to lead such great men and women and I’m humbled that the leadership and council have entrusted in me this task.”
Howard gave credit to the many people who have had an impact on his life and career in public service.
“The responsibility I have as chief will be met with many challenges in the future,” Howard said. “I couldn’t end without asking for the prayers of many for the safety of the men and women every day as they come to work and leave one family to come to another.”
Howard and his wife, Shelby, have one daughter, Olivia.